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The Definitive CDTV Retrospective: Part II
Peter Olafson firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of the unreleased CDTV games in the full list didn't get beyond the
twinkle-in-the-eye stage. But a handful did make it well down the road
toward publication. Here's a rough accounting of the fate of some of the
canceled games on which work is known to have been done.
CDTV Sports Football (CDTV Publishing): Long delayed, this offshoot of
Cinemaware's unreleased TV Sports: Football 2 finally surfaced in early
1994 as Amiga CD32 Sports: Football. (No, it's not backward compatible
with CDTV.) Impressive for its graphic beauty and wide range of plays,
obnoxious in its use of CDXL, it had pitifully little AI and omitted
certain key TV Sports functions. You'd think something in the cooker so
long would be *done*, y'know?
Dungeon Master (FTL): FTL president Wayne Holder reports the developer
largely completed the CDTV conversion of this seminal dungeon crawl, only
to be stymied by the inability to obtain reliable info from CBM on saving
games to memory cards.
This was to be a moderately enhanced version with improved music and
animation and a special animation player. It was never formally canceled;
it just never surfaced. Some of the technology has surfaced in subsequent
Amiga products (like Chaos Strikes Back), and for some time afterward, FTL
continued to hold out hope it could complete the port.
"But things never came together at Commodore," Holder indicated. "So, I
suppose, it ended with a whimper rather than a bang."
Herewith the Clues (Domark): Domark twice went back and forth on an Amiga
CD version of this 1930s murder mystery, first on a CDTV version and more
recently on one for CD32. Neither would surface.
Happily, Herewith the Clues was released on disk by On-Line a few years
back, so we can get a sense of what we missed.
Er ... make that unhappily. In format, it's much like The Hound of the
Baskervilles in that you're presented with a range of evidence, photos, and
exhibits, and expected to digest these clues and come back with a solution.
There's a lot of info to take in without too much in the way of niceties,
and it's fair to expect that the CD version would have been cleaned up and
the hard info abetted with voices.
The Lawnmower Man (The Sales Curve): Wound up as an IBM game, but started
out as a CDTV project. It's a series of linked arcade, flying and puzzle
games based around the rather silly movie. The game was well along (I saw
a muddy 16-color demo of the CDTV version at the European Computer Trade
Show in 1993), but SCI dropped the project in favor of the 3-CD Cyberwar, a
game similar in structure, improved only cosmetically. (No where-is-it
letters, please; it was completed, but has long since been killed.)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Loom, and Secret of Monkey Island (CDTV
Publishing): LucasArts did the CDTV conversions of these delightful
animated adventures, which were projected for release by CBM in 1991 and
Their fate is something of a mystery. A LucasArts spokeswoman reported
that all three cleared in-house testing, were approved, and then were
turned over to CBM for release.
However, a former CBM employee who worked on the CDTV project through 1992
indicates that nothing from LucasArts crossed his desk.
At any rate, the games never did surface. Conventional wisdom suggests
that Indy and SOMI were straight ports of the disk-based games. Loom may
or may not have been a "talkie." (The PC CD-ROM version that preceded it
did have voices.)
Lunar Rescue: The Colossus Incident (Odyssey): Odyssey was one of a handful
of U.S.-based labels to take a real interest in CDTV. Lunar Rescue, slated
to appear on CDTV in the fall of 1992, would have been Odyssey's third and
most original and substantial undertaking - about 50 megabytes of
game-cum-space database built around the rescue of a crashed Apollo
spacecraft. Unfortunately, CDTV crashed first.
For a time, Odyssey pursued Lunar Rescue as a PC CD-ROM project, but that
appears to have fallen by the wayside as well. (I was unable to reach the
publisher for an update.)
Microcosm (Psygnosis): "It will redefine computer entertainment," read the
blurb. Yes, Psygnosis' graphically dazzling, gameplay-poor 3D arcader for
the CD32 was initially a CDTV project. In fact, a short, non- interactive
demo of this early version - along with a longer version of the Planetside
demo - can be found on the Psygnosis demo CD -- intercut with intros from
many of Psygnosis' other Amiga games. (And yes, the disc works on CD32.)
The CDTV version appears to have been much like the CD32 release in
concept. The main differences are that the graphics are largely in shades
of gray and that you're in the *President's* bloodstream, rather than that
of some off-world corporate suit.
Wounded by the platform's famous non-performance, the final nail in
Microcosm CDTV's coffin must have been the arrival of the CD32.
Mind Run II (Crealude): Mind Run author Pierre Berloquin reports that he
completed a Mind Run II. This one focused on machines, logic, space and
numbers, and was designed along much the same lines as the original. CBM
wasn't interested, however, and the project died.
Planetside (Psygnosis): Ah, yes. Planetside. If CDTV's salvation could
have been linked to any particular product, this might have been it. This
is the game that should have sold the machine that came from the house that
Planetside has its roots back in the days when Psygnosis was one of "The
Great Amiga Publishers." Demoed on the Lemmings CDTV disk, this shoot-em-up
had you racing over a fractal landscape in pursuit of a raging missile.
The killer: The demo was said to be drawn, not from the introduction, but
from the game proper. It was to take up about 400 megabytes and was
originally set to appear in early 1992.
But it was delayed until summer, then until fall, then until spring 1993.
And as it turned out, Planetside had been cannibalized for parts. The
technology has since surfaced in Microcosm and NovaStorm (which was started
for CD32, but left incomplete).
Psycho Killer II (On-Line): In which you, as a psychic investigator, track
down the nut who got away in the original. This followup, projected for
spring 1992, was extensively filmed (but not coded) and was canceled when
it became apparent CBM was no longer supporting CDTV. On-Line's Michael
Hodges reports that it would have involved a lot more artwork and would
have been significantly more interactive. (It was also going to include
nudity and some rough language.)
Sensible Soccer (Renegade): *The* Amiga soccer game was slated for a CDTV
version in 1992. That straight port of the disk version was largely done,
but Renegade wound up turning it into a CD32 version instead.
Treasure Quest (Almathera): Almathera canned this half-complete project -
an animated board game built around a random monster maze - when it became
clear CBM wasn't going to support the CDTV.
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Evidently, there was no worse fate that could befall a CDTV game than being
heralded by Commodore as "coming soon." Of 38 games so hyped in the two
CDTV catalogues, exactly two surfaced.
Here's a run-down on other games that were planned for CBM's black beauty,
but never released.
Air Traffic Controller (Logic Plus)
Angel of the City (Tiger Media)
B.A.T. (UBI Soft)
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (Capstone)
The Cardinal of the Kremlin (Capstone)
Challenge Golf (On-Line)
The Classics Collection (School Software)
Composer Quest (Dr. T's Music Software)
Dominion (Dominion Software & Design, Inc)
Espana: The Games (Ocean)
Garfield: Winter's Tail (The Edge Interactive)
Grand Prix (MicroProse)
Horse Racing (Context Systems)
Indoor Sports (Context Systems)
International Karate Plus (System 3)
Jack Nicklaus Golf (Accolade)
James Pond 2: Codename Robocod (Millenium)
KIM (Lascelles Productions)
The Legend of Kyrandia (Virgin)
Mad TV (Softgold)
Many Roads to Murder (CDTV Publishing)
MiG-29 Fulcrum (Domark)
Murder, Anyone? (CDTV Publishing)
Murder Off Miami (Domark)
'Nam: 1965-1975 (Domark)
Pinball Dreams (21st Century)
Pinocchio (Giunti Multimedia)
Plan 9 from Outer Space (Gremlin)
Private and Confidential: KGB (Virgin)
Pro Tennis Tour II (Ubisoft)
Putty (System 3)
Rainbow Collection Platform Arcade (Ocean)
Reach for the Skies (Virgin)
Sign of Four (On-Line)
Sim Earth Planet Simulator (Ocean)
Space Quest III (Sierra)
Spy vs. Spy (CDTV Publishing)
The Terminator (Bethesda Softworks)
Trump Castle (Capstone)
Turrican (Rainbow Arts)
Universal Monsters (Ocean)
Unreal (UBI Soft)
Wayne Gretzky Hockey 2 (Bethesda Softworks)
Wing Commander (Mindscape)
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Did they or didn't they? Only Commodore knows for sure on these three
All were slated for CDTV release, but lack of hard info in one case and
inability to find the publisher in the others conspire to leave these games
in no-man's land.
Cubulus/Magic Serpent (Software 2000): Like Shiftrix/Lettrix (see below),
this duo was slated for release only in Germany.
Hard words for the Amiga game archivist: Germany's a whole separate world
where the Amiga is concerned, and the language barrier sometimes prevents
games from escaping the continent.
However, since they did surface on disk, we have an inkling of what they
must be like on CD. Both appear to be commercial products, but, as with
Lettrix, that distinction seems to have blurred, and they've found their
way into various PD libraries. Cubulus (which actually appeared as a cover
disk on a European Amiga mag) is the work of Tobias Richter, celebrated for
his Star Trek animations and game. It's a colorful turn on Rubik's Cube
games. Magic Serpent's a bright, colorful snake game with a twist: You
don't have full control over the snake... and it's very fast.
Future Wars: Adventures in Time (Interplay): I never could nail down to my
satisfaction whether or not this first Cinemathique adventure surfaced on
CDTV. Interplay does indeed list the game -- equally enjoyed and
howled-over in the disk-based version for its dust-speck sized objects --
as one of its two CDTV releases. CBM did include it in the company's two
CDTV catalogs. And CDTV retailers in the UK suggest it may have surfaced
But I've never seen it, and, as in so many cases with CDTV, seeing is
believing. If it did come out, Future Wars CDTV was to have had a full
musical soundtrack (an element notably missing from the disk game).
Shiftrix/Lettrix (Software 2000): Like Cubulus/Magic Serpent (see above),
this two-pack of Tetris variants was planned as a Germany-only release.
And, again, I can't absolutely vouch for its existence.
I can't even describe Shiftrix. However, Lettrix turned up under the
PD/shareware banner in Europe in 1990 - with one of those "released by"
intro text scrollers which suggests it was a pirated commercial property
instead. It's not Tetris with letters; it's much closer in concept to
games like Shapes. (You plug Tetris-like pieces into letter-shaped